In the mini-documentary series, Netflix brings light to the Calder Road killings. “Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields” is about the victims and the suspects of the famous killings that happened in Texas, mainly around a stretch of I-45 in the late 80s. Several young women were disappearing mysteriously. This is the third part of the “Crime Scene” docu-series on Netflix, and with this one, Jessica Dimmock, the director of the series, gave a voice to the families of the victims. The series starts by showing the audience the stretch of I-45, where open fields can be seen. These fields are known as the “killing fields,” and they are now owned by a petrochemical company. Richard Rennison, who is a supervisory special agent for the FBI in Texas, describes the area further in the series. The main focus was giving voice to the families because it was important to shed light on these cases since they have now gone cold, and the families need justice. So, who are these victims of the “Calder Road Fields,” and are there survivors to recite their experience? Read on!
The Victims Of Calder Road Fields: How Many Were There?
Skip Hollandsworth is a journalist for Texas Monthly Magazine who has also worked on this case and stars in the series. He informs how the fields along the stretch of I-45 are where killers could hide bodies in the late 80s very easily. One victim’s body was found in April of 1984. The remains were found by a couple’s kid, and after two years of finding the remains of the first victim, in 1986, another skeleton was found. While searching for evidence to convict someone and further investigating, the police found another skeleton in the same area, around 25 yards away from the second victim. The documentary then introduces us to Kathryn Casey, who is an author. She says the killings have haunted their community for a very long time. The audience is also introduced to Tim Miller, who is the founder of EquuSearch, an organization that conducts searches for missing people; they basically search for evidence while police ask the families to wait for their missing loved ones to show up.
The first victim that the audience is presented with is Laura Miller. At the time of her disappearance, she was just sixteen years old; she also had a seizure problem. When her father, Tim, reported her missing to the police, the police did not take the case very seriously. The police brushed off the case, saying she would show up and that Laura was probably a runaway. In cases like Laura’s, one could not do much but wait, that too in the mid-80s. Her remains were not discovered till February 2nd, 1986.
The second victim is Heidi Fye, and her niece speaks on behalf of her in the series. Nina Edwards, the niece of Heidi, speaks very highly of her aunt. She tells the audience what a great person Heidi was. Unfortunately, she disappeared and never showed up in Houston as she was supposed to. She was 25 years old at the time of her disappearance, and she was last seen talking on a payphone, much like Laura Miller. Both of them disappeared from League City, Texas. There were no street lights on the roads, and it was a very dangerous place, as described by the residents of League City. Heidi’s father did not wait for the police to give answers; he himself went and interviewed people around League City. His recordings are still with the family. Her remains were discovered on April 6th, 1984, under a tree.
The third victim was left unidentified, so she was named Jane Doe. As the documentary proceeds, the audience is introduced to several victims. All were mainly teenagers and young adults. One of the victims was called Laura Smither, and she was just 12 years old. She disappeared from Friendswood, which was considered a very safe place.
These girls were lively and active but disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Some bodies were found quickly, and between 1971 and 1977, eleven girls disappeared with no answers from the officials. The audience is also introduced to another unidentified woman, Janet Doe, who disappeared in 1991 in the same location. The FBI had to take over the case as the disappearances were increasing. Several questions were buzzing around at the time: was it one killer or multiple killers?
Who Was Abducting These Young Women?
There were many suspects. However, the series focused on Clyde Hedrick, who was the main suspect in several killings. He was known as a “casanova conman” and worked as a roofer in his early days. He had a criminal history too. He was a person of interest because the body of a woman was discovered. The body was Ellen Beason’s, and she worked in a bar called Texas Moon. That is where Clyde Hedrick met up with her. He claims that she drowned while “skinny dipping,” and he was not involved in killing her intentionally. He said he was scared of getting convicted, so he just dumped her body nearby. For this crime, he was fined $2000 and one year in prison. Well, Tim Miller was convinced that it was Clyde Hedrick who had killed his daughter Laura because one of Laura’s friends said she was scared of Clyde, who lived nearby.
After a lot of investigation, the police found another person of interest. It was a NASA scientist, Robert Abel. However, they were never able to prove that he had anything to do with the killings. In fact, he said he had collected articles and photographs to help the police in their investigation. He owned some land near the area, and the man also met up with Skip, the journalist. Even Skip described him as a man who looked as haunted as he was about the killings that happened near where Robert lived.
Were There Any Survivors?
Yes, one woman survived an abduction in 1997. Her name is Sandra Sapaugh. She was followed by a guy who was staring at her while she was in the store. While she was driving, her car stopped, and the man who was staring at her came to her, offering help. He later abducted her and threatened to kill her. However, she jumped out of his car and survived. Sandra then went to the police and shared her experience, and with her description, William Reece was arrested. He was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 60 years in jail. There is another survivor who tells her story in the documentary, and that is Marla. She is the daughter of a woman who dated Clyde Hedrick. She describes in depth her experience with the notorious killer. Marla also helps the victims’ families get justice because she says she feels the pain of others because she was abused by Clyde Hedrick.
Final Thoughts On The Series: Is It Scary To Watch?
Well, it is indeed very scary to witness the stories of young women mysteriously disappearing. What is more frightening is that many families of these victims are still looking for answers. There is not enough evidence preserved by the police to convict a particular person for the multiple killings that took place. Also, after almost 30 years, Clyde Hedrick, who was convicted of murdering Ellen Beason, is now out on parole. Marla expresses how dangerous it is to set a monster like him free at the end of the series. The good thing about the documentary is that it at least gives a voice to these cold cases that can be solved if communities come together and work together. At last, the people who made this documentary even pledged to help the families of the victims because, from time to time, these cases go cold, and, as the cases get older, the evidence goes missing. The show also sheds light on the lack of work the police department is responsible for; they did not preserve the evidence well. When these cases were active, the police did not have enough resources or technology to convict a particular person. With time, that has changed. The families still hope to get more answers and get justice for their loved ones who lost their precious lives in vain.
“Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields” is a 2022 crime documentary series streaming on Netflix.